August 10, 2018: STOP CRC Trial Finds Higher Rates of Colorectal Cancer Screening in Community Clinics Using an EHR-Based Outreach Tool

The primary results of the Strategies and Opportunities to Stop Colorectal Cancer in Priority Populations (STOP CRC) trial, an NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Project, were published online this week in JAMA Internal Medicine. The analysis found that colorectal cancer screening rates were higher in community clinics that implemented a mailed fecal immunochemical test (FIT) outreach program than in clinics that practiced usual care. The improved screening rates occurred despite low and highly variable rates of implementation of the program among participating clinics.

Almost half of eligible adults in the United States are not up to date with recommended screening for colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Screening rates are especially low among racial/ethnic minority and low-income populations, including those served at federal qualified health center clinics.

The STOP CRC trial tested a program to improve colorectal cancer screening rates in 26 clinics within 8 federal qualified health centers. The intervention involved embedding a tool in the electronic health record to identify patients who were overdue for colorectal cancer screening, mailing a FIT kit and reminder letter to eligible patients, and implementing a practice improvement process at participating clinics. Of the 26 clinics in the study, 13 received the intervention and 13 practiced usual care.

Compared with clinics that practiced usual care, intervention clinics had a significantly higher proportion of participants who completed a FIT (3.4 percentage points) and any colorectal cancer screening (3.8 percentage points). The higher screening rates occurred despite another important finding of the study, that low rates of implementation of the intervention were common. Higher rates of implementation were correlated with higher rates of FIT completion.

The STOP CRC experience offers lessons on how to use electronic health records to improve guideline-based screening. In a recent NIH Collaboratory Grand Rounds, investigators Dr. Gloria Coronado and Dr. Beverly Green presented findings from the trial and lessons from the implementation of the intervention. Download a study snapshot about the STOP CRC trial.

Additional reading:

Read the press release from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research: Community Health Centers Can Help Boost Rates of Colorectal Cancer Screening, Kaiser Permanente Study Shows

Read Dr. Beverly Green’s blog post on the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute’s Healthy Findings blog: Community Health Centers Can Boost Colon Cancer Screening